Some people are very diligent in their oral hygiene routine. However, for many, sensitive teeth cause a lot of discomfort during brushing or flossing. Sensitive teeth may also ruin enjoying some of life’s wonderful gifts like chocolate and ice cream. In fact, in a 2008 National Health Interview survey, among a quarter of people suffer from toothache or sensitive teeth in the United States. A variety of reasons may cause increased teeth sensitivity:
- Brushing too hard
- Receding of the gums
- Gum disease
- Teeth grinding
- Acidic foods
What Causes Tooth Sensitivity
The feeling of sensitivity comes from contact with the dentine that encapsulates the tooth. Enamel is there to protect the dentin. However, when enamel is worn away, food and drink may brush up against the exposed dentin and cause the tooth pain. Dentin is naturally yellow in appearance, so the wearing down of enamel will make your teeth appear more yellow.
Teeth sensitivity may also come from exposed teeth root surfaces. Normally, gums protect this area of the teeth by tightly binding to them. Gum disease causes gums to recede and expose more of the teeth, including the root surfaces. The roots are protected with enamel, but with cementum, which is not as hard. Also, the roots of your teeth are close to nerve endings, which are especially sensitive to stimuli such as temperature and acidity.
Taking Care of Your Sensitive Teeth
Using fluoride toothpaste, gels, or varnishes can help re-mineralize the enamel for more protection of the exposed dentin and to remove the bacteria that may be affecting gum health.
Rinse after consuming acid, sugar, starch
Rinsing your mouth with water can remove acids, sugars, and starches can prevent them from setting on teeth and irritating sensitive teeth. Wait for about 30 minutes before brushing your teeth; brushing too early may push the irritating substances up against teeth.
Chew sugarless gum
Chewing gum produces saliva that can wash away the substances that can irritate teeth.
As with any oral hygiene routine, flossing is important. Get rid of food particles stuck between teeth that can wear away enamel and/or become a platform for bacteria to penetrate the gums.